The Country Music Association recently honored Warner Music Nashville Chairman/Chief Executive Officer John Esposito with the 2020 CMA Jo Walker Meador International Award and Dutch country artist Ilse DeLange with the 2020 CMA Jeff Walker Global Country Artist Award.
Esposito was presented his award on Friday, Aug. 14 during Warner Music Nashville’s “The Warner Corner” virtual staff meeting. Sarah Trahern (CMA Chief Executive Officer) and Milly Olykan (CMA Vice President, International Relations & Development) joined the call to surprise Esposito and join his entire staff in celebrating the honor. The CMA Jo Walker Meador International Award recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual in advocating and supporting country music’s marketing development in territories outside the United States.
“I am teary-eyed,” said Esposito after learning of his award. “I promise you, our commitment to this has only just begun. Thank you thank you thank you.”
Esposito established an international marketing department at Warner Music Nashville over three years ago, in addition to bringing on a U.K.-based consultant to represent the genre to partners in other territories. Under his leadership, artists such as Dan & Shay, Morgan Evans and Ashley McBryde have all seen continued growth and success internationally.
The CMA International Awards honor industry executives and artists who have supported and made a difference towards the growth and promotion of country music in the international marketplace. Nominees are recognized in five categories acknowledging their dedication and efforts in growing opportunities for country music in their local territories.
DeLange was presented the award Wednesday, Aug. 12 through a surprise video message from superstar Carrie Underwood, while being interviewed on German television show Volle Kanne. The CMA Jeff Walker Global Country Artist Award recognizes outstanding achievements by a country music artist signed outside of the United States who has furthered the popularity and brought attention to the country music format in his or her foreign-based territory. Underwood and DeLange first worked together in 2018 when Underwood performed at DeLange’s Tuckerville festival in the Netherlands.
As one of the best-selling female artists in the Netherlands, DeLange has spread country music globally since beginning her music career in 1998. In addition to earning over 40 music awards, the 18-time Platinum certified artist has served as a coach on The Voice of Holland and has her own national TV show, Ilse’s Veranda. Following her solo career, DeLange launched the Americana band, The Common Linnets, who participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014 with their song “Calm After The Storm,” which charted at No. 1 in 14 countries. In 2017, DeLange appeared in a reoccurring role on the hit TV show Nashville, and last year she released her album Gravel & Dust, which was produced by T Bone Burnett. Most recently, DeLange has been a featured artist on the seventh season of the German music reality TV show Sing My Song, which was filmed in South Africa.
“Ilse consistently uses her platform to benefit artists in her own country, in addition to providing opportunities for Nashville country artists to reach a wider European audience,” says Olykan. “And Espo has always prioritized his artists’ expansion into territories around the world and recognized that country music can serve a global market. We are thrilled to congratulate them both on winning these awards.”
Earlier this year, CMA awarded Ben Earle of U.K. Country duo The Shires with the 2020 CMA International Country Broadcaster Award. Winners of the two remaining 2020 CMA International Awards categories will be presented with their awards later this year.
- CMA Honors Robert Deaton With Chairman’s Award - December 4, 2020
- Nashville Symphony, Nashville Musicians Association Reach Agreement - December 4, 2020
- Zach Williams’ “Chain Breaker” Is Most-Added On ‘MusicRow’ CountryBreakout Radio Chart - December 4, 2020